xXx: Return of Xander Cage
The last forty minutes of the movie do come together in a pretty diverting way.
The reviewers of Tsai Ming-Lian's "What Time Is It There?" have compared it to the work of Yasujiro Ozu, Robert Bresson, Michelangelo Antonioni, Jacques Tati and Buster Keaton. If none of these names stir admiration and longing in your soul, start with them, not with Tsai. Begin with Keaton and work your way backward on the list, opening yourself to the possibilities of silence, introspection, isolation and loneliness in the movies. You will notice that the films grow less funny after Keaton and Tati; one of the enigmas about Tsai's work is that it is always funny and always sad, never just one or the other.
Tsai's hero, who indeed shares some of the single-minded self-absorption of the Keaton and Tati characters, is Hsiao Kang (Lee Kang-Sheng), a man who sells wristwatches from a display case on the sidewalks of Taipei. One day he sells a watch to Shiang-Chyi (Chen Shiang-Chyi--remember, family names come first in Chinese societies). He wants to sell her a watch from his case, but she insists on the watch from his wrist, which gives the time in two time zones, because she is flying to Paris.
Hsiao's home life is sad without redemption. In an early scene, we have seen his father, almost too exhausted to exhale the smoke from his cigarettes, die in a dark, lonely room. Hsiao's mother (Lu Yi-Ching) becomes convinced that her dead husband's soul has somehow been channeled into Fatty, the large white fish in a tank in the living room. Since Fatty is Hsiao's pet and only friend (he confides details of his life to the fish), this is doubly sad: Not only has the father died after bringing no joy to his son's life, but now he has appropriated the fish. You see what I mean about humor and sadness co-existing, neither one conceding to the other.
The movie then develops into a story that seems to involve synchronicity, but actually involves our need for synchronicity. We need to believe that our little lives are in step with distant music, when synchronicity is simply the way coincidence indulges itself in wish-fulfillment. The girl goes off to Paris. Hsiao, who has barely spoken to her, and then only about watches, is so struck by longing for her that he begins to re-set watches to Paris time. First all of the watches in his display case. Then all of the watches and clocks available to him. Then even a gigantic clock on a building (the parallel to Harold Lloyd's most famous scene is inescapable).
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